Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A very shana tova to all

I loved what Rachel wrote about Yom Kippur yesterday - so personal and thoughtful. I figured what else could I add other than a nice "quick and dirty" explanation from what I believe to be a reliable web source,

"Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most sacred of the Jewish holidays, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths."

By Yom Kippur the 40 days of repentance, that begin with the first of Elul, have passed. On Rosh Hashanah G-d has judged most of mankind and has recorded his judgement in the Book of Life. But he has given a 10 day reprieve.

On Yom Kippur the Book of Life is closed and sealed. Those that have repented for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year.

Since Yom Kippur is the day to ask forgiveness for promises broken to G-d, the day before is reserved for asking forgiveness for broken promises between people, as G-d cannot forgive broken promises between people.

Yom Kippur is a day of "NOT" doing. The is no blowing of the Shofar and Jews may not eat or drink, as fasting is the rule. It is believed that to fast on Yom Kippur is to emulate the angels in heaven, who do not eat, drink, or wash.

The Five Prohibitions of Yom Kippur:
  1. Eating and drinking
  2. Anointing with perfumes or lotions
  3. Marital relations
  4. Washing
  5. Wearing leather shoes

While Yom Kippur is devoted to fasting, the day before is devoted to eating. According to the The Talmud the person "who eats on the ninth of Tishri (and fasts on the tenth) , it is as if he had fasted both the ninth and tenth." Prayer is also down played so that Jews can concentrate on eating and preparing for the fast.

On the eve of Yom Kippur the community joins at the synagogue. Men put on prayer shawls (not usually worn in the evenings). Then as the night falls the cantor begins the "Kol Nidre", it is repeated 3 times, each time in a louder voice. The Kol Nidre emphasizes the importance in keeping vows, as violating an oath is one of the worst sins.

An important part of the Yom Kippur service is the "Vidui" (Viduy) or confession. The confessions serve to help reflect on ones misdeeds and to confess them verbally is part of the formal repentance in asking G-d's forgiveness. Because community and unity are an important part of Jewish Life, the confessions are said in the plural (We are guilty).

As Yom Kippur ends, at the last hour a service called "Ne'ila" (Neilah) offers a final opportunity for repentance. It is the only service of the year during which the doors to the Ark (where the Torah scrolls are stored) remain open from the beginning to end of the service, signifying that the gates of Heaven are open at this time.

The service closes with the verse, said 7 times, "The L-rd is our G-d." The Shofar is sounded once and the congregation proclaims - "Next year in Jerusalem."

Oh yeah, and we eat apples and honey and a sweet cake called "Teglach", which is basically soup nuts drowned in honey and spices, with some minced fruit and possibly some sprinkles and raisins thrown in for extra sweetness. This is to symbolize a "sweet year".

And here is a Yom Kippur song, that I think all the Yogis out there will appreciate, in Hebrew, and with an English translation:


Al hadesheh tal vageshem veshana tova
Uvadelet or utchelet shel hayom haba
Min haru'ach daf shaluach chadashot tovot
Magiot al knaf haruach el halevavot.

Ulai im hashana tihye tova
Nishkach darchey madon ve'achzava
Beyachad litzliley hashir haba nirkod kulanu
Ulai nishlach bracha ulai gluya
Ulai bichlal nashir haleluya
Mipney shehashana hazot
tluya be'etzem banu.

Lo shachahchti ech halachti bedarchey achzav
Mechapeset chen vachesed
bitchilat hastav

Mitrageshet ufogeshet anashim vataf
Uvona itam beyachad bayit meshutaf


Al hadeshe tal vageshem veshana tova.

On the grass there is dew and rain and a good year
Light and light blue of the next day stands in the door
Good news comes on a sheet of paper that came on the wind's wing
Straight into our hearts.

Maybe if the year will be good
we will forget the ways of quarrel and
And to the tune of the next song we will dance together
May be we will send a card or a greeting
or we will sing Haleluya

Because what will happen in this year
basically depends on us.

I did not forget how I walked in deceptive ways
Looking for grace and goodness
in the beginning of the Autumn

I was excited meeting grown ups and children
Building a house together with them.


On the grass there is dew and rain and a good year.....

1 comment:

Neil said...

A nice explanation of the holiday. I used it to describe Yom Kippur to someone else. Shana tova.

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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